Apple, EMI set to announce deal, but Beatles not included

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Apple, EMI set to announce deal, but Beatles not included

JupiterResearch analyst Michael Gartenberg said a tie-up between Apple and EMI could cover a range of issues, but that a Beatles distribution pact was not likely part of the deal.

Apple and music label EMI Group Plc plan to announce "an exciting new digital offering," EMI said Sunday, renewing speculation of a deal to put the Beatles music catalog online.

However, a source familiar with the situation said a Beatles deal would not be featured at the event Monday.

"There is no Beatles' announcement," the source said.

EMI said that it plans to hold a news conference Monday at its London headquarters, where EMI Chief Executive Eric Nicoli will be joined by Apple Chief Executive and co-founder Steve Jobs, the company said in an e-mail to reporters.

A live Webcast of the event, which will feature "a special live performance," will be available at http://www.emigroup.com beginning at 1 p.m. local time in London (8 a.m. EDT).

JupiterResearch analyst Michael Gartenberg said a tie-up between Apple and EMI could cover a range of issues, but that a Beatles distribution pact was not likely part of the deal.

"While the Beatles are the obvious choice, the invitation does mention a 'special live performance' and it is clear that that live performance does not cover the Beatles," Gartenberg said. "There are a lot of other possibilities."

Currently, no Beatles songs can be downloaded via online music services. EMI has acted as the distributor for the Beatles since the early 1960s.

The news event follows the settlement in February of a long-running trademark dispute between Apple Inc. and the Beatles' company, Apple Corps Ltd. This cleared a hurdle for selling the songs of the Fab Four, which have been a high-profile holdout from Internet music services like iTunes.

At the high-profile launch of the Apple iPhone in January, Steve Jobs raised hopes that the band could be about to go digital when it played one of their songs and used a Beatles' album cover to grace a giant on-stage screen behind him.

Beyond any potential deal with EMI involving the Beatles, Apple and EMI could be working on a means for eliminating restrictions that prevent unauthorized duplication of digital music.

Earlier this year, Jobs called on the world's four major record companies, including EMI, to start selling songs online without copy protection software to thwart piracy known as digital rights management.

Jobs said there appeared to be no benefit for the record companies in continuing to sell more than 90 percent of their music without DRM on compact discs, while selling the remaining small percentage of music online encumbered with a DRM system. (Additional reporting by Duncan Martell and Michael Kahn in San Francisco and Yinka Adegoke in New York)


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